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I first noticed a lump/protrusion near Max's [13yo, male intact, ~81lbs] right hip area a couple weeks ago and knew something was up. The vet stuck a needle in to see what kind of fluid was in it and I believe it was mostly blood. He then did a sonogram (apparently Max was resisting being on his side so the sonogram wasn't as clear as they would have liked) but he could tell there was fluid in the stomach and something between the stomach and intestines, because the intestines were being pushed a little further to the side.

The vet said it's very likely hemangiosarcoma, which has also probably spread. Last Tuesday he gave me 20mg Prednisolone to give once a day to hopefully help with mobility and slow the tumor down. Since Sunday morning, Max has been barely able get up or walk around due to back leg issues. He can get up on his own and walk around some, but it's clearly very difficult because he's having a hard time supporting his back leg(s).

Today I noticed that his back right leg (same leg as the lump/tumor) is swollen so I brought him back to the vet. Apparently the tumor on that leg is restricting blood flow, which is causing the swelling. He told me to up the Prednisolone dosage to 50mg (2.5 pills/day instead of 1) to hopefully help with the swelling.
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I'm assuming the swelling is what's causing the sudden drop in mobility over these past couple of days, so is there anything else I can be doing to help bring the swelling down? My vet pretty much has said/implied that if the swelling doesn't go down or gets worse, he thinks I'll likely have to make a decision about putting him down. He said amputation is technically a possibility, but doesn't think that's a worthwhile path.

Aside from the swollen leg, is there anything else I should/could be doing about the hemangiosarcoma itself? From what I've read/been told, it's a very aggressive cancer which doesn't seem to react well to chemo. Should I be going for a 2nd opinion? Should I go the chemo route, which my vet would have to refer me for?

Any help/insight would be greatly appreciated - Thanks!
 

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Hi,

I am very sorry about your dog's situation. I don't know about the hemangiosarcoma, but I think I can give you an advice on the swelling. My Golden has a heart defect and he takes furosemide to help prevent the swelling on his legs and paws. Maybe you could talk with your vet? But please be careful as furosemide can increase the risk of kidney problems.

Best of luck for you and your dog.
 

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Consider this: 6 mos in a dog's life is a long time. So let's start with that.


In my experience with hemangio (itially removing the spleen took all that was seen at that time) is that chemo bought us 6 months of happy, active dog. Then a second bleed occurred and the vet could see that hemangio had recurred and spread to the liver. There was nothing more that could be done.



Without chemo you might get three months more. I didn't know going in that 6 mos was about all one would get but I am glad that I made the decision to do chemo. Chemo does not affect dogs the way it does humans. She felt spiffy after her chemo.


That's all I have to offer. It will be an expensive 6 months but to me it was worth it. (& I could afford it.)
 

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OP, it is entirely up to you how you decide to treat your dog. For me, I have always opted to be less aggressive with an elderly dog. Thirteen years is a good run. Whatever you decide, I wish all the best to you and Max.

Hugs to you!
 

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I would not try to treat a 13 year old dog, beyond keeping him as comfortable as possible.

The breeder of one of my dogs had a 10 year old with hemangio. Since he seemed to be doing so very well after the initial bleed, she did a Go Fund Me to raise money for surgery.

He was so full of cancer the vet euthanized him on the OR table. :crying:
 

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so sorry that your boy is having issues....most hemangio starts on spleen and signs are not this obvious.....

at 13, you want to consider the quality of his life....some dogs do fine with chemo and others - it is a horrible horrible nightmare and the dog has sideeffects that are heartbreaking....at 13? you have had years of great time with him and do not want him to suffer.......

Many dogs who undergo surgery only live a week or two - 3 months is really optimistic but does happen.


Wishing you strength to deal with this .....hug him and spoil him lots right now.


Lee
 

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I would have an oncologist stage the cancer -- and definitively diagnose it. Staging with ultrasound will help determine if it's already spread. That's a real possibility with this stuff, and once it's already in the liver, lung, or even heart, the end is near. There's no point in surgery or anything else then -- all we can do then is make them comfortable, love them, and give them a peaceful passing.

OTOH, if there's not yet any evidence of spread, and if the dog is otherwise strong and healthy, you have options. The chemo protocol for hemangio isn't good (even the oncologists say that) -- 6 mo. really is the best-case, with both chemo and surgery. Some dogs get much less. I wouldn't do surgery without the chemo, as the outcomes for surgery alone are almost never good. Surgery alone is a lot of pain and expense for nothing IMHO.

However...there's also a new immunotherapy option that requires a piece of his tumor -- the surgeon literally saves it and bottles it up to send off. They use the cells in it to produce a specifically targeted "cancer vaccine" to teach his immune system to seek and destroy hemangio cells. The cost is on par with chemo - $3,000 to $5,000. It's very, very new so there aren't many dogs who've done it.


Paying for a consultation with an oncologist gets you time to discuss all this. You don't have to do any of it, and you may still decide it would be too hard on your dog. The consultation just gets you better decision-making through more info, in my opinion. You can then sit down with your trusted family vet once they get the report from the oncologist about the staging, and talk through it together.


You should also look into the work being done by the KetoPet Sanctuary. They have some hemangio dogs living astonishingly long lives on their protocol (which also often includes conventional chemo). They have their diet guidelines online -- it's a weird homemade diet. The oncologist I talked with could not endorse or refute it -- too new, too little known.

If you don't want homemade, Dr. Harvey's pet food has a base-mix based on the same principles to which you add meat and fat -- Paradigm:
https://www.drharveys.com/products/dogs/450-paradigm-a-green-superfood-pre-mix
I currently have my dog who has recovered from melanoma on this diet. He likes it!

He also has a supplement called Solaris that's worth looking into:
https://www.drharveys.com/products/dogs/451-solaris-immune-support-supplement-for-dogs
 
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